Book Review: The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton

Format:  Paperback

Pages: 410 pages

Published: 1913

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Genre: Fiction & Literature, Classics

 

 

 

Synopsis: 

Edith Wharton’s satiric anatomy of American society in the first decade of the twentieth century appeared in 1913; it both appalled and fascinated its first reviewers, and established her as a major novelist. The Saturday Review wrote that she had ‘assembled as many detestable people as it is possible to pack between the covers of a six-hundred page novel’, but concluded that the book was ‘brilliantly written’, and ‘should be read as a parable’. It follows the career of Undine Spragg, recently arrived in New York from the Midwest and determined to conquer high society. Glamorous, selfish, mercenary, and manipulative, her principal assets are her striking beauty, her tenacity, and her father’s money. With her sights set on an advantageous marriage, Undine pursues her schemes in a world of shifting values, where triumph is swiftly followed by disillusion. Wharton was re-creating an environment she knew intimately, and Undine’s education for social success is chronicled in meticulous detail. The novel superbly captures the world of post-Civil War America, as ruthless in its social ambitions as in its business and politics.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton”

Book Review: A Pair of Silk Stockings by Kate Chopin

24874356Format:  Paperback

Pages: 56 pages

Published: February 26, 2015

Publisher: Penguin Classics

Genre: Fiction, Short Stories, Classics

 

 

 

Synopsis:

A short story by Kate Chopin. The story takes place in an unnamed city–a city large enough to have a department store, a fashionable restaurant, a theater, and a cable car–probably in the early 1890s.

Kate Chopin was a great writer and never given the respect she deserved during her lifetime. Besides her popular novel, The Awakening, Chopin explores taboo issues such as what is it like to be a woman in society or the race identity. Like her popular novel, The Awakening, Chopin was never afraid to talk about issues and takes on the challenges that everyone else is afraid to touch.

Continue reading “Book Review: A Pair of Silk Stockings by Kate Chopin”

Book Review: The Mysteries of Udoplho by Ann Radcliffe

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Format:  Paperback

Pages: 693 pages

Published:  1794

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Classics

 

 

Synopsis:

A best-seller in its day and a potent influence on Sade, Poe, and other purveyors of eighteenth and nineteenth-century Gothic horror, The Mysteries of Udolpho remains one of the most important works in the history of European fiction. After Emily St. Aubuert is imprisoned by her evil guardian, Count Montoni, in his gloomy medieval fortress in the Appenines, terror becomes the order of the day. With its dream-like plot and hallucinatory rendering of its characters’ psychological states, The Mysteries of Udolpho is a fascinating challenge to contemporary readers.

The Mysteries of Udolpho is a very long and densely written novel. It took me a real long time to finish this one. The writing is very inconsistent, Radcliffe drags on for a very long time. It took at least a third of the novel to get to the main part of the story. As customary with 18th century novels, authors can sometimes be repetitive in their text.But with Radcliffe, she goes over the top. Radcliffe gets real repetitive and there are times you either had a hard time following what was going on in the plot or bored of reading of the book altogether. I completely understand why some readers dislike this book. Continue reading “Book Review: The Mysteries of Udoplho by Ann Radcliffe”

Short Review of 4:50 from Paddington by Agatha Christie

95833074:50 from Paddington by Agatha Christie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It is interesting to see the different writing styles Christie’s incorporates into her stories, even when they contain the same character! But I feel that is a good way to keep the story fresh and different every time a new one came out. Nevertheless, I highly enjoyed this one. Along the way I was trying to figure who the murderer and of course, my idea of the killer was completely off. I’m having fun reading these Christie novels!

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(Full review of this book will be up soon!)

Book Review: Matilda by Mary Shelley

29437563Format:  Paperback

Pages: 110 pages

Published: March 3, 2016 (first published 1819)

Publisher: Penguin Little Black Classics

Genre: Classics, Fiction

Synopsis:

Mary Shelley’s dark story of a bereaved man’s disturbing passion for his daughter was suppressed by her own father, and not published for over a century.

The only book I read from Mary Shelley was Frankenstein. So when I saw this novella, a story that her own father suppressed, I was very intrigued. Frankenstein  is one of my all-time favorite books so I wanted to see what other books Mary Shelley wrote.

Matilda is somewhat like Frankenstein, dealing along the same theme of the parent-child relationship. Shelley does a great job of having the reader identify with Matilda’s abandonment and loneliness issues. As the reader, you get the dive in her complicated relationship with not only with a mother she never got to meet but a father who abandoned her. Intensity of these relationships was clearly felt and Shelley did a great job portrayal for the first half of her tale.

The subject of incest, disgusting as it is, was one of the things that interested me in reading in this story. However, Shelley barely approach the subject, only a mere declaration from Matilda’s father. When this occurs, you get the overly dramatic and emotional telling of both Matilda and her father’s feelings, a perfect example of living in the Romantic Era. This when it got a little repetitive and at times straining to read. I was going to completely write this story off until I realized that I needed to do some more historical research to understand a little more of Mary Shelley’s intention of writing this story.

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Mary Shelley

To understand Matilda, you need to know learn the background of the author. Mary Shelley is the daughter of feminist philosopher and writer, Mary Wollstonecraft. Wollstonecraft contracted an infection from the birth and died ten days after Shelley was born. William Goodwin left Mary in the care of a family member for a time while he traveled around Ireland.Although there is no evidence to the contrary, you might consider this novella a little bit of an autobiographical account of Mary Shelley’s life. So finding more about Goodwin’s and Shelley’s relationship, I saw that this was a perfect example of the parent-child relationship.

Then I discovered the reason why Shelley wrote this Matilda. Shelley and her husband, Percy Shelley, lost two of their children and writing this novella distracted Mary from her grief. Mary became emotionally and sexually distant from Percy so maybe writing this story helped her put her feelings in words. That could be the reason why it was so overly dramatic and at times all over the place. The story may have been a downer and have a depressing ending but it was how Mary felt at the time and the only way she can put her feelings into words. It gave her chance to look back at her life and examine her present and somehow combined the two to create a story, no matter how controversial it may be.

So be prepared. If you would like to read this story (and I highly suggest that you would), try to keep an open mind. Don’t look at as another Frankenstein because it is not. Knowing more about Mary’s history actually gave me a better understanding of Matilda and this novella gives us a rare look into this great novelist’s life.

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Get It At: Amazon |Barnes & Noble|Book Depository | Your local library

A Misunderstood Heroine – Book Review: Emma by Jane Austen

Format:  Paperback

Published:  1816

Pages: 432 pages

Genre:  Fiction & Literature, Classics, Romance

 

 

 

I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like”

–Jane Austen

That quote cannot be any truer, especially when talking about a character like Emma Woodhouse. Emma is definitely unlike Austen other heroines. And it is no surprise that a lot of people are not to fond of the novel due to Emma’s personality. But in spite of Emma’s many, many flaws, Emma is still one of my favorite novels.  Continue reading “A Misunderstood Heroine – Book Review: Emma by Jane Austen”